Doug Moody

Database Programmer

As a programmer at Point Blue Conservation Science, I manage very large databases and am part of a team that leverages that data to build creative visualizations that give us a look at how climate change will impact both natural communities and the built environment. I was part of the development team for our tool, “Our Coast, Our Future”, which presents users with a variety of possible sea level rise (SLR) scenarios along the Bay Area’s outer coast. I’ve helped develop best practices that allow us to display large datasets in brittle web environments, and used open-source tools to render massive spatial datasets and serve them up to the public in a way that aims to be both beautiful and meaningful.

My earliest efforts used the Google Maps API, but the size of our databases (we have hundreds of thousands of discrete locations where tens of millions of observations are stored) quickly outstripped the ability of Google Maps to display them. My solution was to move us into an open-source spatial stack.

This opened up a universe of possibilities, and I developed many new tools that wouldn’t have been possible before. These include a grid interrogation service that translates mouse moves into database queries instantly. I also developed a “clip and ship” design pattern that allows end users to browse our data catalog, select a bounding region, and download the data with nothing but a reasonably current web browser. Finally, I’m working with the Informatics team on complex raster queries using PostGIS2. These allow us to calculate important metrics for climate change scenarios, such as average flood depth under storms of increasing severity under a variety of SLR scenarios. I also try my best to solve problems of capacity and scale in an environment where datasets can run into the terabytes.

In my spare time, I’m investigating NoSQL solutions where relational databases simply fail to scale. I’m passionate about free software, code re-use, open data standards, and prefer Earth jazz to Klingon opera.

I divide my time between the Bay Area and Honolulu, and I can can always be found on Skype.